ACLU Battles Local City Residents Over New Illegal Immigrant Detention Center

ACLU Battles Local City Residents Over New Illegal Immigrant Detention Center

After previously threatening to do so, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has decided to push back against the will of many Escondido, California residents, who came out by the hundreds in June in opposition to the proposed installation of an illegal immigrant detention facility in their community.

Escondido’s planning commission has twice considered and denied a permit application to convert a vacant building into a detention facility to house illegal immigrant juveniles. 

The ACLU of San Diego has filed an appeal of the decision on behalf of Southwest Key, the organization that would run the detention center. The appeal refutes Escondido resident and planning commission arguments to reject the permit. The issues addressed in the appeal include residential character, security, size, noise, traffic, and parking. Escondido’s City Council is expected to consider the appeal regarding the proposed facility within 30 days of the August 1st filing.

Southwest Key, funded by grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), operates unattended alien children (UAC) facilities in a number of states in the U.S. Those grants total $457,94,289.00 in taxpayer money, according to amounts tracked through TAGGS. The program has been expanding in the wake of the growing number of illegal immigrants flooding into the country illegally. Reports through HHS show the majority of juveniles entering the country are teens and approximately three quarters male.

An estimated 500 local Escondido residents came out to the first city planning commission meeting to consider the permit in June. The majority of protestors opposed the conversion of a vacant retirement facility into a detention center for illegal immigrant youth. A representative from Congressman Duncan Hunter’s office was present to oppose the facility. Hunter had sent a letter to the Escondido Mayor strongly requesting the facility not be permitted, Breitbart reported.

“These people now are sick and tired of their government,” Escondido resident Katherine Rodriguez said in a video taken at the first meeting. Resident Duncan Fane spoke of the problem of allowing the federal government to take control of facilities within their city. Both came to that first meeting to oppose the proposed detention facility.

A second planning commission meeting affirmed the prior decision to deny the HHS application. An Escondido Democratic Club email sent out leading up to the second meeting incited a racism narrative, reading, “At the last planning commission meeting, blatant racism drove the conversation. This calls for change,” according to National Review. The site went on to report statements made and signs held by the illegal immigration proponents after the vote to affirm. “Shame on all of you,” they shouted while holding “Deport Racists Not Children” signs.

“The previous meeting included public comments from more than 150 people,’ Escondido city planning commissioner Jeff Weber told National Review Online at the time. Weber described the standing-room-only crowd at the first meeting as well behaved.”

Breitbart News also received reports from inside the first meeting that refute the claims of racism and refer to a gathering of very reasonable Escondido community members. 

The ACLU noted in a release that it battled Escondido in 2006 after the city moved to prevent illegal immigrants from renting there. Escondido’s population is approximately 150,000, and an estimated half are Latino.